Skincare Favourites of 2017


Happy New Year! I hope you're having the best start to 2018 and hopefully not feeling too worse for wear today after last night's celebrations. Before starting any new posts of the year I really wanted to do a quick round up of my favourite skincare products that I used/discovered in 2017. These products may not have been necessarily new but it was the first time that I had used them and loved them so much I wanted to make sure I gave them a mention on here.

Sukin Certified Organic Rose Hip Oil


I've used Rose Hip oils in the past and loved them but as I wasn't able to get hold of the brand I usually used, I decided to give this one a go. I'm not sure if this was a slightly bigger bottle than what I was used to but I found that this oil seemed to last me a lot longer and a little went a long way. Rose Hip Oil - especially organic is an absolute miracle worker for your skin. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, it can help to repair damaged tissue and regenerate skin cells, which makes it perfect for scars and stretch marks! I tend to use this around my hips and thighs for my stretch marks and then sometimes add a few drops to my normal body moisturiser for extra hydration. I definitely recommend this if you have dry/damaged skin.




If you are thinking of switching some of your skincare products for natural alternatives then please please start with your deodorant. You only have to google the words conventional antiperspirant to see the amount of research and evidence explaining the dangers and risks involved with using them, it's down right scary and completely unnecessary. I have been using natural deodorants for about 18 months now and I would never go back to a conventional antiperspirant. I have tried quite a few different ones so far and I like to regularly change them up so that my body doesn't get too used to one. My two favourites have been Neal's Yard Remedies and the one I have featured here, Schmidt's. This deodorant has been my favourite scent so far and I love the creamy texture of the stick, it's so moisturising and leaves your skin feeling soft. There have been a few natural deodorants I've tried in the past that irritated my skin especially if they contained large amounts of baking soda/arrowroot, and although this one does contain some arrowroot I haven't had any irritation at all, even when using it straight after shaving! 




Typically I'm a strict coconut oil user to cleanse my face and remove make up as it works brilliantly and leaves your skin moisturised. However, I do often find myself needing something extra to cleanse a bit deeper into my skin and for this reason I decided to try the Sukin Sensitive Cleansing Gel. Usually I'm not a fan of this kind of product as my skin tends to dry out after using them but I find that if I use this gel around 3 times a week while sticking to the coconut oil routine in-between then my skin feels even more fresher than normal and still nicely hydrated. I love how the gel is suited for sensitive skin and is also paraben and sulphate free. 




Balance Me is a really nice brand that I have used before but cannot for the life of me remember what products it was I tried before this one! But anyway, the radiance mask is a really lovely product that I like to use 2-3 times a week to keep my skin feeling soft and smooth. Considering it's a face mask it doesn't give you that tight dry mud mask feeling like conventional face masks, and it's actually a lot more like a creamy moisturiser. The mask smells heavenly and contains tiny shell particles that very gently exfoliate your skin without drying or irritating, which is really important for my skin. I only leave the mask on for about a minute and then use a warm damp muslin cloth to remove it. It leaves you feeling like you've had a mini midweek spa treatment.




I saved the best for last... I love, love, love this little face oil! Hence why, as you can now see the bottle is empty and I need to replace it asap. I was sent a sample of this amazing product by Love Lula, (thanks guys!) and it was the first time I had heard of Ooh! I later found out that it actually stands for Oils Of Heaven, which is perfectly named as this oil is so heavenly! I wasn't too sure about using an oil as a moisturiser thinking that it would be heavy and most likely impossible to use underneath make up, but oh how wrong I was! It's extremely lightweight and honestly the most moisturising product I have used on my skin. Also, I tried it underneath my make up and it worked perfectly, not breaking up my foundation at all. I used this every night for a few weeks and each morning my skin looked incredible, the surface was completely soft and smooth and my complexion had even improved. If you are looking for a new face moisturiser and want to try something a little different I would definitely recommend this product.


So there we have it, a round up of my favourite skincare products of 2017. I hope this has been insightful and inspiring for a more natural way to care for your skin, and given you some ideas of great products to try. Thanks so much for reading and I will hopefully see you back here again soon!

Festive Mulled Wine Recipe



For me, there really isn't a more festive drink than mulled wine. It always reminds me of Christmas markets and getting cosy in front of an open fire. I love the flavours, the smell and it even looks delicious and festive! This year I decided to make my own version and although I'm not a big drinker I have made the alcoholic version rather than non alcoholic. There are some great recipes online for non alcoholic mulled wine but it is just a really simple swap - use a berry fruit juice in place of the wine, and voila! This recipe is also quite versatile so feel free to play around with the quantities to suit your own preferred taste. 



Ingredients (Serves 2)

250ml Red Wine
2 Large Slices of Orange
2 Cinnamon Sticks
4 Star Anise
5 Cloves
2 tsp Honey/Maple Syrup
Sprinkle of Vanilla Powder

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and heat for a few minutes making sure it doesn't bubble or boil. Pour through a strainer and serve. Feel free to add the orange slices, cinnamon sticks or star anise for the finishing touch. Enjoy!




Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup


Halloween has been and gone, but afterwards I was wondering what to do with the pumpkins I had left over. It seemed only right to make good use of them and so I decided to make a pumpkin soup. Having never made this before I was worried it might turn out to be a disaster but actually it is probably the best soup I have made so far and a lot easier than I thought it would be. Below is the list of ingredients I used followed by the method.

Ingredients

1 small pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1tsp Turmeric Powder
1tsp Paprika Powder
1-2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp Honey
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Pinch of Coriander
Drizzle of Oil
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180c (fan)

Cut the pumpkin into quarters and scoop out the middle discarding the stringy flesh but keeping the seeds to one side.

Using a potato peeler remove the skin from the sections of pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin into cubes.

Place the cubes of pumpkin on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and roast for 30-40 mins.

Once cooked leave the pumpkin to cool for a few minutes before adding it to a food processor along with 1\2 cup of coconut milk and blend together.

Place the pumpkin seeds on a tray and roast in the oven for 10-15 mins.

Pour the pumpkin and coconut milk blend into a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients, heat on a low light stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and coriander over the soup to serve.


Hope you like the recipe and enjoy the soup as much as I did. I still have 2 pumpkins left so will be cooking up another recipe soon! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the post!

Autumn Appreciation and Winter Preparation




Honestly, up until this year the only season I ever really enjoyed was summer. Summer was my time of year, a time for warm light summer nights, hazy mornings, sunbathing and dining al fresco. Anything other than summertime just wouldn't do. But more recently for reasons unknown I have developed a new found awareness and appreciation of all seasons and the changes within each one. I think the appeal has been the feeling of a new start, a chance for new beginnings and to turn over a new leaf (preferably a chestnut coloured crunchy one.)




The start of Autumn brought me so much excitement for the months ahead, I really started to take more notice of all the colours changing and the mornings feeling crisper and with Halloween around the corner what was there to not be excited about?! Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate the cold and how easily I feel the cold, it honestly makes me feel so miserable! But so far the change in weather hasn't affected me too much, yes I have been layering up more and noticing how icy cold my car feels getting into it each morning, but for the first time, it hasn't made me feel down at all!




For someone who hates the cold weather I have really been getting on board with it this year and making the most of the colder months. I have been spending more time wrapping myself up and going on sunny walks, taking Mika on even earlier morning walks while it's still dark and peaceful, and making my home extra cosy at night with candles, a lit fire and most importantly turning that central heating up!

Now that we are getting nearer to winter I feel like it's time to start preparing for that next drop in temperature. So far I have stocked up by purchasing practically the entire of Primark's 300 denier fleece lined tights, my favourite M&S thermals and a daylight lamp for the extra dark mornings when it feels like you are waking up at midnight. The key is in the prep, once that is done I can sit back and relax while clutching an endless amount of hot water bottles - but hopefully still with a smile on my face.

Until then, we still have exactly 39 days of autumn left to enjoy before winter officially begins. So I will just be over here, going on some more crisp sunny walks, figuring out what to make out of my left over pumpkins (so far one has been made into a soup which I will share the recipe for soon), and snuggling up in front of the fire surrounded by candles while potentially watching some Christmas films because it is NEVER too early.

I hope your autumn is treating you well and hopefully you are making the most of it too!




Healthy Vegan Halloween Cookies



It's beginning to look a lot like Halloween, so I decided to spend a bit of time in the kitchen this weekend making some Halloween treats! I'm so in love with these cookies, they are so light and sweet and I don't feel guilty about eating them as I know they are made with amazing ingredients. I have had lots of questions on my Instagram about how I made these cookies so I thought I would write a really quick post sharing the ingredients and method. They are honestly so quick and easy to make. The recipe is based on the Chocolate Bats and Cats recipe by Deliciously Ella however, I changed it up slightly to work for the type of cookie I wanted.

Ingredients:

Cookies:
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
2 tbsp Cashew Butter
2 tbsp Maple Syrup
120g Buckwheat Flour

Icing: 
 2 - 3 tbsp Coconut Cream
1 tsp Maple Syrup

Chocolate to decorate: 
1 tsp Almond Butter 
1 tsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Cacao Powder


Preheat the oven to 180c (fan)

Melt the coconut oil, cashew butter and maple syrup together on a low heat. Next add in the buckwheat flour and mix until the mixture forms a dough. 

Roll out the dough and start cutting out your halloween shapes using your choice of cookie cutters or free hand using a knife.

Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. Check the cookies often to avoid burning as the mixture cooks quite quickly.

Once cooked leave the cookies out on a wire rack to cool completely. While the cookies cool you can start making the icing.

Mix 2-3 tbsp of coconut cream in a bowl with 1 tsp of maple syrup. Using a spoon or knife carefully spread the cream over each cookie then leave in the freezer for around 10-15 minutes to set.

Next, to make the chocolate, melt the almond butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, and cacao powder in a pan on a low heat and then leave to cool for a few minutes to thicken slightly.

Take the cookies out of the freezer and start decorating your halloween shapes with chocolate. For this I used a very thin pointed knife to draw the ghouls faces.

After this you can either keep them stored in the fridge or eat them straight away.

And voila there you have your healthy vegan Halloween cookies!

I hope this is helpful to those wanting to make their own cookies and as always thank you for reading this post.

Happy Halloween Baking!


An Evening Banquet with Deliciously Ella

Many years ago when I first started taking an interest in food and nutrition as a way to treat my health conditions I found myself desperately trying to find inspiring recipes that weren't overly complicated, used ingredients that I was familiar with and looked tasty. Let me just say that this was no easy task. Many of the recipe books I found used a ton of confusing ingredients, no nice imagery to accompany, and quite frankly sounded awful. When I first stumbled across the Deliciously Ella blog I finally found what I'd been looking for. Simple ingredients? Check. Beautiful food photography? Check. Plant Based? Check, check and check! Not only that, the recipes were made by someone who was relatable and clearly very passionate about food. Finally there was somebody who made me feel normal to be cooking kale when everyone else was tucking into their Big Macs. Since then I have been following Ella on her journey from her blog, first book and now to her 4th book, opening delis and launching products.

 Last weekend I had the absolute pleasure of dining with the lovely Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella) and 50 others as part of the Manchester Food Festival. The evening kicked off with a talk from the award winning food blogger where she spoke all about how her business started, how it rapidly grew and future plans, along with her own personal thoughts and insights into health, diet and social media. Shortly after we had a Q&A session where Ella answered all our questions very honestly and openly with the warmest sense of humour.

Later in the evening we heard from the head chef who talked us through all the amazing ingredients he had used in the carefully selected meals, all of which stayed true to Ella's lifestyle of plant based, gluten and dairy free goodness.




The banquet was served on beautifully dressed long wooden tables and started off with the most amazing Sweetcorn Chowder. This was the first time I had tried any kind of chowder and it certainly won't be the last. I have honestly been googling chowder recipes everyday since!



The main course was served family style on large serving plates to share, I loved this idea as it really got everyone interacting and gave the whole evening a warm and friendly feeling. It was so nice getting to know everyone and it has defintely made me want to try more banquet style meals in the future. 

The main course included Sweet Potato Wedges with a Tahini and Coriander dressing, Aubergine with Tomato and Basil, a Black Rice Salad with Peppers, Pistachios and Sultanas, and an Artichoke and Edamame Dip. My favourite was the black rice salad, with so many amazing flavours going on I could have ate the entire plate myself! It sparked a memory of that Friends episode... you know the one I mean "Joey doesn't share food!" (If you don't know what I mean, please google it for some comedy gold)




Dessert was served as a Mango and Coconut Sponge Cake which was decorated with the prettiest edible flowers (I had to ask before I ate one just to be sure!) And as a final treat we were then served the lightest and most delicious chocolate Truffles to finish the evening.



All in all it was a throughly enjoyable night with great company and delicious food. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday night! Thank you to Ella and her team for hosting the banquet and I hope to make it to the next one. If you are thinking of going to one of Ella's events I couldn't recommend it more, there are usually lots of Supper Clubs and Banquets that you can get tickets to via her blog.

Once again thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post!

Natural Make Up - What I Use


Natural beauty products are something I have been testing and researching more and more over the past few years. Since being a lot more aware and selective about what foods I put in my body I have become more conscious of the products I put on my body as these can also have a great impact on your health. Also with your skin being the largest most absorbent organ of your body it makes sense to be mindful of the products you use and also know more about the ingredients used in cosmetics.

Unfortunately bath, hair, beauty, and cosmetic products are largely filled with harmful ingredients such as sulphates, parabens, fragrances, and preservatives. Some ingredients can cause numerous skin complaints and irritations while others are proven to be carcinogenic.

For these reasons I have been slowly swapping out my not so nice make up products for some much kinder ones. For me personally it is a slow process and one that requires a lot of trial and error when testing out new products. I am pretty damn fussy with make up - particularly foundation and I am yet to find a natural one that does the job for me, so for foundation the quest is still on going (although Vapour Organic did steal my heart for a while).
However I do have a few other products that I have tried out recently and seem to be getting along with:




I was lucky enough to get my hands on this blusher in a sample sale and I'm so glad I came across it. Inika is an organic make up brand that I had been wanting to try for a while, I had seen the brand across many organic cosmetic websites and was intrigued by all the great reviews I read. I had high hopes when I finally got this blusher and it really didn't disappoint. The colour is a very natural nude with a slight plum tint, not a colour that I would usually go for but I actually love it! Also, being quite a messy person when it comes to applying make up I'm not one for loose powders at all, however the pot has a great little lid that you can twist to release/hold the powder. No more powdery dressing table for me!




I cannot tell you how long I have been trying to find a good natural nude lipstick - a long long time! I always say that I'm not much of a lipstick wearer but in fact this is just not true, what I really mean to say is I'm not a lover of lipstick colours that stand out on me. I envy people who look amazing in a bright pink or classic red lip but I'm just not one of those people. Don't get me wrong I have tried and tested many a bold lip, but I swear I just look wrong. My old faithful has been and still is MAC Cremesheen in Creme D'Nude, but considering I am unable to find out the exact ingredients for this online, it is pretty worrying to say the least. On a day of madness a couple of months ago I ventured out of my comfort zone and bought a pink lipstick, more specifically I bought the Burt's Bees lipstick in Lily Lake. I loved it. The colour didn't actually scare me too much and the texture of the lipstick is so smooth and creamy it actually just feels like lip balm. Continuing my quest for a more friendlier alternative to MAC, I discovered the Burt's Bees Nile Nude. I really hoped that this shade would be a close match to my MAC lipstick but when it arrived I realised it was quite a few shades darker. I still recommend this lipstick as the ingredients are a lot safer than others out there and the quality and texture is beautiful, I'm just not quite convinced that this is a shade for me.




Lily Lolo is a brand that I am very new to, since discovering it just a few weeks ago I have bought the  loose bronzer and the eyeliner pencil and have been using both for about week. 

So far I am in love with this bronzer. It has a very golden glow to it that is something I have been trying to find in a bronzer for years. Being a mineral powder it feels very soft and luxurious on your skin while giving a reflective glow similar to a highlighter, in fact I would say it is more like a bronzer and highlighter in one. I should warn you however this is a very golden shade of bronzer which you can see in the final swatch image below so will not be to everyone's liking and also if you prefer a matte bronzer this one certainly won't be for you.

The eyeliner pencil is a very nice quality and consistency, I always find that most eye make up I wear seems to transfer underneath my eyes and also in the crease of my eyelid. This eyeliner was no exception and still transferred however I think using a setting powder around the eyes would probably sort this problem - it's just something I always forget to do. The shade is a nice deep velvety black and it works great on the waterline too. This brand is extremely affordable which makes me love it even more.




When I first started looking into natural cosmetic brands, W3ll People was one of the first companies I looked at. Firstly because of the range of products it produces and secondly because of the brilliant reviews and recommendations it has online. I decided to try the Bio Brightener Powder to use as a setting powder over my foundation. The powder is loose but I don't find it to be messy at all, it goes on great over liquid foundations and is easy enough it carry around in your bag without any spillages.  I use the powder if I am wearing a particularly dewy foundation or one that I know will look shiny after a few hours of wear, for this reason I find it slightly confusing that the powder is said to give a youthful glow as for me it works brilliantly as a mattifying powder. It could be that this product works differently for various skin types but never the less it has become a staple in my make up case.




As you can see these are two of my most well used products and actually the first natural organic make up products I ever used. Known for their amazingly nourishing ingredients RMS Beauty is possibly my favourite natural organic cosmetic brand.

The Lip2Cheek is a smooth pigmented cream that can be used as a lip colour or blusher, I have used it for both and can confirm it works brilliantly either way. Being the lip colour coward that I am I usually use this as a blusher when I want a bit more of a brighter cheek. The main ingredient in this is coconut oil so it glides on beautifully and blends like a dream. I couldn't recommend it more.

I have had a love hate relationship with the Buriti Bronzer but most recently have been in a strong and stable loving relationship with it. The texture is much like the Lip2Cheek with a smooth, creamy feel and very nourishing. My only dislike to it was the colour, for me it just isn't the right shade for my skin and is far too dark to wear as a bronzer. However, I wanted to love it and kept trying it hoping one day it would be the bronzer of my dreams, until I thought about trying it as an eyeshadow.   The colour and consistency works amazing for me as an eyeshadow, it glides on smoothly and blends incredibly well. What's even better is that the main ingredient is again coconut oil and is also high in vitamin A - surely there is no better way to keep wrinkles at bay. 




Swatches of the products I have talked about from left to right:

RMS Lip2Cheek - Demure

RMS Buriti Bronzer

Burt's Bees Lipstick - Nile Nude

Inkia Loose Mineral Blush - Blooming Nude

Lily Lolo Loose Mineral Bronzer - Waikiki


Hopefully this post has been helpful to you and has given you some good ideas of products to try if you are thinking of switching your products to safer natural ones. Getting to know products and ingredients more is a great way to start and an easy way to do this is to research what products you use and what ingredients are found in them. 

There are a couple of places you can look to find out more such as: 


These are the websites I use to buy my products from:

www.cultbeauty.co.uk

Thanks so much for reading!